11 March 2014

Council tenants switch on to mutual exchange scheme

Twenty families have applied to swap their council homes with each other in the last two months, largely to combat the knock on effect of the government under occupation rules. The council is encouraging households to join their mutual exchange and tenant incentive scheme, (TIS), as a positive way to tackle growing debt associated with welfare reform. In the last financial year alone almost 200 households have swapped, 20 more than the previous year, (2012/13).

Councillor Bill Randall, Chair of Housing, said: ” Brighton & Hove is already facing a rising tide of homelessness and a growing demand for affordable housing. Now hundreds of council households are dealing with the added dilemma of whether to pay more every week for a spare room, find a lodger, or move. The council is doing everything it can to help these households: the Mutual Exchange Scheme and the Tenant Incentive Scheme are bringing a great deal relief, and in most cases families are really happy with their move.

Many overcrowded families have waited far too long for larger properties, many of which are inhabited by only one or two older tenants, who would downsize given the chance. The beauty of both schemes is that they have opened up so many positive opportunities, bringing a great shift in personal choice “

Margaret and Kerry swopped homes under the council's mutual exchange scheme 2 and 3 bedroom house exchange

Margaret had been thinking about downsizing ever since her daughter left home. With two school age sons still at home she also found herself facing payment through the under occupation rule for the spare room in her 3 bedroom house. Margaret said: “I have been so happy here, living on this street for the last 12 years, but it’s too big for me now.”

Just a few doors away, in a 2 bed house, on the same street live Kerry and Lee with their two children, a teenage son and an older daughter, Kerry said, Kerry said:

”We love this area and want to stay because of the school, family and friends, but we are too squashed; the kids need their own rooms. We have been looking for a 3 bedroom house for ages, but nothing has come up locally”

A chance conversation between Margaret and her friend Mary provided the answer. 

As soon as Margaret mentioned she wanted to downsize Mary introduced her to Kerry, her daughter-in-law, and the rest, as they say, is history!

Mary explained, “As soon as they visited each other they wanted to swap – it’s the perfect solution – everyone is happy – especially me because I still have my friend and my family in the same road!” 

Mutual Exchange

A mutual exchange is where a tenant swaps home with another council or housing association tenant. Tenants looking for someone to exchange with can use a service called Exchange Locata  where they can list their current house  and search for suitable properties. Once a property swap is found it will be agreed by the council

Tenant Incentive Scheme (TIS)

The Transfer Incentive Scheme (TIS) is for council tenants who are living in accommodation suitable for families, have one or more bedrooms that they no longer need and are interested in downsizing or ending their tenancy. It is also available for tenants who have a wheelchair-adapted property they no longer need and who could move to a new home without adaptations. The tenant will be prioritised through the Homemove scheme will be eligible to receive a cash incentive of up to £2,500 following a move.

For more information see Mutual Exchange.

There are various websites available to look for properties including the Exchanges Wanted Facebook page and Exchange Locata.